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"He who sees his own doom can better avoid its path. He who sees the doom of others can deliver it."
Eldrad Ulthran, Warhammer 40000

Sometimes, the most powerful fighter will not be equipped with such Stock Super Powers as super-strength, or nigh invulnerability. Instead, they have the power to see into the future.

Why is this useful? Because it lets them know your next move, and plan accordingly.

Why this doesn't muddle up their ability to know what you're doing now can be chalked up to the Rule of Cool. Alternately, it can be Handwaved by saying that they're not looking that far into the future, or by noting their brain can keep up with both.

Is often accompanied by Spider Sense, which warns the user of vague danger instead of predicting specific attacks.

Compare Kung Fu Clairvoyance where the hero seems to have this, but it's not canonically one of their abilities. Contrast with Super Reflexes.

Not to be confused for Calling Your Attacks, which is about calling out the names of your own attacks as you do them.

Examples of Combat Clairvoyance include:


Anime And Manga

  • Sven's seer's eye in Black Cat allows him to see a few seconds in the future, thus detecting danger before it happens.
  • In Code Geass, this is the Geass power given to the Knight Of One, Bismark. In the manga, Nunnally has it.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist's Fuhrer King Bradley
  • Takuma Fudou from GetBackers has this by way of precognition. He can look a few seconds into the future, and see what his opponents are going to do.
  • The Big Bad of Scryed eventually gains this ability, which becomes something of a Wallbanger considering it allows him to dodge Straight Cougar's attacks (A Speedster who, with his basic Alter, can break the sound barrier; the Big Bad is physically no stronger or faster than a normal human. This was in his upgraded form, no less).
  • This is Diavolo's Stand ability in Part 5 of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure. He can also "erase" a 5 second section of time so that it never happened. As you might expect, this power is ridiculously broken.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Nodoka's artifact has the ability to read minds. While this doesn't quite fit the Clairvoyance part of the trope, the use we see most often is her reading her opponent's mind in combat and reacting to the opponent's plan.
  • Mirai Nikki, being a series about people who receive ways to predict the future and are then sent to kill each other, of course has this in spades.
  • In Naruto, upgrading to the three-tomoe state of the Sharingan gives this ability. If they're looking at someone in motion it will be like they can see exactly where and in what position that person's entire body will be in. However, there are some things, like the Animal Battle Aura of a tailed beast's host, whose movement it can't predict very well. The other shortcoming is that knowing exactly what your opponent is about to do doesn't necessarily mean you're strong enough or fast enough to stop him from doing it.
  • One Piece
  • In Psyren we have Kabuto Kirisaki, whose psychic ability "Menace" acts as both Spider Sense and Combat Clairvoyance. He can see incoming danger as a white aura a few seconds before it actually happens.
  • In Saint Seiya a silver saint has this ability and it proves hard to defeat
  • Jun of Saki has the ability to read the flow of a Mahjong game and uses this to her advantage by cutting off her opponent when they're about to win. Unfortunately for her, Mihoko also has the ability to perfectly analyze a field to see what's going on and has a presence that disrupts Jun's ability.
  • Parodied in Soul Eater. A Mook shows up who has this ability. Sadly, he can't react that fast and ends up throwing himself at his opponent's fist at the first opportunity to save himself the bother -- all he saw was different ways he'd get his ass kicked.
  • The Villain of the Week Nurse Okamoto/Hina in episode 5 of Star Driver has this, able to anticipate all of Takuto's moves... unfortunately, it also came with a fanservice mode. And since she couldn't stop checking out Takuto she lost.
  • The Informed Ability of Eila in Strike Witches. This allows her to forgo using magical shields entirely, being able to see and dodge Frickin' Laser Beams. However, problems arise in an episode when she's not considered for a mission alongside her girlfriend Sanya requiring her to be protected from those Frickin' Laser Beams while she's a sitting duck, aiming her rockets...
  • Shiki in Tsukihime due to his ability to perceive death, knows when he's about to be hit by a lethal blow. Since his opponents are a lot more powerful than him, that's nearly every blow. That doesn't help him in numerous Bad Ends.
  • Brad Crawford of Weiss Kreuz has the ability to see bits of the future, making him a formidable fighter.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Ishizu Ishtar can see a minute or so into the future, see what will happen, and plan her own move accordingly. Pegasus' Millennium Eye is also a variation of this, able to see the mind of his opposing player and figure out what strategy they use.
  • The ZERO System from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing works like this, except that it's technological rather than a superpower. It's an advanced combat analysis complex that puts together massive amounts of battle data and tactical analysis and feeds it directly into the pilot's brain, including predictions of what the enemy's going to do. Combined with the mindlink the System creates, this allows the pilot to move and react as if the Humongous Mecha were part of his own body.
    • In the final battle, Quattro somehow seems to still be able to do this even after he disconnects the ZERO System from his Gundam. Despite Psychic Powers supposedly not existing in Gundam Wing.
  • An unusual case in Until Death Do Us Part, the sidekick girl can foresee the future and has, on several occasions, remotely-directed the heroes by predicting which moves will let them dodge the incoming attacks. Although this ability keeps them alive and able to fight, it doesn't always let them escape without injury.


Comic Books

  • Midnighter in The Authority, a result of Awesomeness By Analysis.
  • The second Batgirl has this. They try to justify it via Training From Hell, but it doesn't take very well. It's less of a psychic ability and more of the ability to judge her opponents' body language.
  • Birds of Prey villain Archer Braun
  • In Doom Patrol Negative Man (nee Flash Forward) can see the immediate future but due to his relative wimpiness his only use in a fight is coordinating his teammates based on his visions. Eventually he loses control of it and can't stop seeing the distant future, before being given medication that suppresses his powers altogether.
  • Dream Girl in pre-any-reboots Legion of Super-Heroes could do this. Not only that, her ability to do it was taken from a much older LSH story.
  • Speaking of which, Spider-Man, depending on how the writers feel his significant sense should work.
  • Superman villain Massacre. Superman eventually figured out that Massacre's actual ability is being able to read his opponent's nerve impulses to predict their actions and knocks him off guard with a ricochet attack and presses the advantage to keep Massacre from regaining his bearings.
  • In a recent Teen Titans comic, Clock King is able to clobber Robin by virtue of being able to see a few seconds into the future and knowing what his next move in combat is going to be.
    • Ravager has the same power. In the final issue of Terror Titans, she wipes the floor with Clock King by Fighting Dirty and not giving him time to react to his visions.
      • Actually not the same power. It was retconned later that her power is based on Awesomeness By Analysis. Deathstroke, who shares the same powers as Ravager, explained this too her.
  • The short-lived Wolverine villain Mr X (two-time winner of the Least Original Name prize) relied in combat on the fact that he could read people's minds and tell what they were about to do. Oh, and the fact that he was a kung fu master. But it was his ability to predict moves that gave him the edge he needed.


Film

  • Nicholas Cage played a precognitive in the movie Next. Since he was always seeing two minutes ahead, he was actually LIVING two minutes ahead -- but whenever he ran up against something he didn't want to happen, he would force himself to refocus back into "the present," and choose to do something different. In short, he was so tuned into his precog it worked almost more like the ability to jump backwards in time than to see the future.
  • The Big Bad in Chronicles of Riddick has this as a Required Secondary Power. If you can instantly pick your next move, you better know the consequences of those moves. Riddick tricks him into an unwinnable situation.
  • The Big Bad of Dead or Alive has... a pair of sunglasses that both give him the fighting prowess of those he gathered data from, as well as lets him predict their movements. It makes less sense in context, as it allows a non-combatant about twice the age of his enemies to take down three skilled fighters working together.
  • Canonically, this is the explanation for the Jedi Knights' superior combat-skills and ability to block lasers with their lightsabers... they've got the ability to predict the future in a limited way. This is brought up in Episode 1 when Qui-Gon Jinn pegs Anakin as a potential Jedi due to his ability to participate in Podracing - a sport that human reflexes simply aren't fast enough to keep up with. Jedi can also look further into the future, but this generally requires a lot more effort.

  At least according to the record, he'd been hitting the correct response buttons in the milliseconds after the trigger stimuli algorithm had been run, but before the actual images appeared onscreen, and the computer had not been able to handle near-simultaneous input and output. He'd crashed the thing three times before he'd evidently decided to slow down a little and let the program catch up.

  • General Buford makes a speech about what will happen at Gettysburg if he allows the Confederates to take the high ground before the Union infantry arrives. Though this is due to being Genre Savvy as a result of decades of experience as a professional soldier rather than any superpower, he does reference the trope.

 Buford: It's like tomorrow's already happened and there's nothing you can do about it.


Literature

  • In the Dune series, the Kwisatz Haderach has the ability to (among other things) see into the future, which is used in combat. Mentats can also see the future by way of "projecting" the possible outcomes of a given choice, but their role was not usually that of a front line combatant. And yet when it came to combat, prescience proved useless because of too much happening too fast. During one fight, the most Paul could see was that possible futures include him winning and him being carried out as a corpse. [1]
  • The main character from the Alex Verus series is one of the best examples of this. He's usually going up against opponents far more powerful than him, but survives through always being one step ahead.
  • Prince Po from Graceling has a variation of this as his Grace. While he can't see the future, he can sense people's intentions toward him. If someone's going to punch him, he'll know it before they so much as twitch. He's a very talented hand-to-hand fighter on his own merit, and his Grace amplifies it exponentially.
  • One spectacular aversion in the book Iapetus, in which after the normal protagonist has had his complete helplessness around espers repeatedly proven to him, he encounters a community leader of an esper colony; a physically brutal sociopath who enjoys killing "monkeys" and feels the protagonist has stolen his girl. And who is unconscious after one punch to the jaw that nobody sensed before it landed.
  • What happens when an Allomancer burns the metal atium in Mistborn. If her opponent does the same, they're flooded by an incredible array of constantly shifting options, as one reacts to the other's future actions, the other reacts to that, etc. Atium also specifically enhances the allomancer's mind in order to deal with the new information. Each book has a scene where someone with atium fights someone without it, and loses. One is a case of sophistry, one hinges on the fact that this is still clairvoyance and subject to the usual pitfalls and loopholes, and one is a re-enactment of 300: atium-users can do tremendous damage, but at some point, the power will start to tell you "You'll drop that sword and collapse."
  • The main character Kellen in Mercedes Lackey's The Obsidian Trilogy. He is a Knight-Mage, and when he's fighting can see his opponents next move just in time to get out of the way. Can also see open places before they are open.
  • Too Many Magicians features a character with this power.
  • The mind-reading version occasionally happens to background characters in Christopher Stasheff's Warlock of Gramaraye series, though all of the major heroic characters either are telepaths themselves or unreadable.
  • Hope Adams of The Otherworld has the ability to sense chaotic emotions/events. In one book, this allows her to sense bad thoughts (such as thinking about pulling a gun on someone) before they occur and intercept them, thus giving her some form of Combat Clairvoyance.
  • Played with in Weber's Hell's Gate series. While most people's Precog deal with specific disasters like volcanos or forest fires, he Calirath talent is basically 'People Precog', dealing with tragic or sweeping events with /people/. It works quite well when the Calirath is going to be risking death in a battle -- the stronger Caliraths can even use it to fight with, and the visions grow stronger if the person has a good chance of dying. In the book itself, the Crown Prince uses the Calirath talent to arrange a battle that they will most definitely lose so it's a great victory -- but because he saw his death and made sure to follow it to ensure his men the greatest chance at victory, he dies.
  • The Dunyain from The Second Apocalypse can't technically see the future, but they can read their opponents' expressions and body language and predict their actions before they perform them.
  • Alice Cullen uses her clairvoyance against other vampires, both for fighting and playing chess.


Live Action TV

  • In Charmed Phoebe's power of premonition is utilized in this manner.
  • Implied in Firefly to be one of the (many) reasons River Tam is a One-Man Army. Her brain is very advanced - she could definitely handle processing both present and future events and act accordingly.
  • Daniel Jackson was given three seconds' worth of precognition in the Deep-Immersion Gaming episode of Stargate SG-1.


Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons has a few spells that do this by giving their caster damage resistance.
    • Not just spells, but various feats, class/race abilities, skills and item properties work as boosts to Initiative rolls, keep you from being subject to surprise attacks, be able to use interrupting abilities, move out of the way, have someone else take the damage, or otherwise ticking off the GM.
    • This is also what numerical "insight" bonuses represent-- knowing where an opponent's attack will land makes a character harder to hit, and knowing where an opponent's weak spots are going to be positioned makes a character better at hitting him.
  • In the RPGs GURPS and Champions the advantage Danger Sense covers this, though usually players don't spend enough points to make it monstrous. Spider-Man, is (of course) the inspiration.
  • In Warhammer 40000 this is part of the reason that Eldar psykers are effective in close combat. The other reason is the rest of their repertoire of powers usually involve eldritch lightning or psychic flames.
  • Averted for the Oracle of Tzeentch - he is possibly the greatest seer of the universe but his powers are only useful in long-term Xanatos Roulettes; he is actually blind to the present (one head sees the future and the other the past) and so physically a pushover by greater demon standards.
  • In The Dresden Files' RPG, the custom power "A Few Seconds Ahead" that canon character Abby has allows her to see a few seconds into the future. The in-game effect of this is that it allows her to use her high Lore skill to dodge attacks rather than her lower physical skills.


Video Games

  • Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid does this by reacting to your controller input. He becomes a much easier opponent if you plug your controller into the P2 port so that he can't read you.
  • The Vyrewatch in Runescape have the ability to predict what move an opponent will make with a normal weapon. This allows them to dodge all attacks, making them immune to all weapons, except the one you make during the quest they're introduced in.
  • Lambda of Wild Arms 4 has the Blue Destiny ability, which lets him calculate the future and allows him to completely avoid the attacks of anyone in his sight most of the time, even if the attack is normally unavoidable.
  • In Warcraft, this is part of why it's a bad idea to fight Nozdormu, Aspect of Time. The others are his colossal other temporal based powers, such as the fact that even if you did manage to kill him he could rewind time and try again, and of course the fact that he's a giant dragon.
    • Actually Nozdormu is destined to die, although where, when and how is unknown. He was gifted with the knowledge of his own death to keep him from misusing his powers over time. Basically unless you're the destined one, you can't kill him.
    • And even then, as shown in the World of Warcraft dungeon End Time, you still need the help of Nozdormu himself to pull it off.
  • This is one of the abilities the Monado in Xenoblade possesses - it's demonstrated in gameplay by a brief flash forward to show a particularly devastating attack on one of your teammates. Since the game runs in a manner similar to Final Fantasy XII, this is the means by which it warns you that you're about to get your ass kicked. You usually won't be without a way to prevent what you see, though...
    • One egregious example shows up in a fight late-game, where you see one Physical God cutting the other. The damage is listed as a mobius strip.


Web Original

  • Averted in Dominic Deegan during a fencing class.
  • Foreshadow in Global Guardians PBEM Universe is a crimefighter who occasionally partners with Battlecat, battling organized crime in New Orleans. He's an almost unbeatable hand-to-hand combatant due to his ability to see just far enough into the future to know what they will do. He's even used this power to dodge bullets. The Eye of God, an expert swordsman and member of the super-terrorist group known as "The Mujahedin", can do the same thing. One wonders what a fight between Foreshadow and the Eye of God would be like.
  • The Girl of A Girl and Her Fed has this power.
  • Jo Donner has this power in the Whateley Universe, and she's at Whateley Academy learning how to use it better.


Western Animation

  • Francis Grey, from The Batman, does this by way of rewinding time.
  • Demonstrated in Xiaolin Showdown as one use for a Shen-Gong-Wu that let the user see the future. Master Fung uses it to beat all the Monks except Raimundo, who promptly decides it's not worth trying("I knew you would say that").

Notes

  1. How unlike Frank Herbert, to introduce a super-cool idea and not quite follow through.
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